May Update

A few months ago we brought your attention to the situation of Sokchea, a beautiful young girl with what appears to be cerebral palsy. Since our last post, we were able to find a wheel chair for her to grow into! She had been getting used to it little by little and it's been very helpful for allowing her to experience more at our church services. This is an answered prayer!

 We also have continued to see many small steps forward with Sokchea's strength and motions. She can sit with support longer than ever before, and continues to show a strong desire to exercise, often lifting her arms and legs to practice movements even when we are not there.

A recent team visit was great for Sokchea because a team member who is experienced in caring for the disabled was able to give us a lot of pointers on how to help her more. Another friend on the team also helped connect us with a PT who had great advice as well. We are so thankful that God who knows Sokchea's needs is putting people in our path to help. Please keep her in your prayers!

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Recently we had the opportunity to celebrate the life of an amazing and special woman: Yay Phait, a 100 year-old member of the church and an inspiration to many. She has seen so much history, lived through deprivation and abuse, and knows firsthand God’s faithfulness. Yay is not at all shy about telling anyone she crosses paths with about Who her trust is in!

For Yay’s 100th birthday, we wanted to gather together so that we could honor her and express what a blessing she is to the church and community. Volunteers, visiting team members, and staff from every part of IHSI ministry pitched in to barbecue two whole pigs, make side dishes and tea, set up chairs and tables, and serve food. Yay Phait was seated at the place of honor with her children, grandchildren, and friends.

Yay Phait blew out her birthday cake candles for the very first time in one hundred years, surrounded by so many who love her! She also received some beautiful portraits as a gift from the Hansons. Then we had a time of testimonies where people young and old shared about how Yay has inspired and encouraged them.

It was a privilege to celebrate Yay Phait’s centennial birthday and see in a small way how her life and character have rippled out to influence so many. Join us in praying that Yay has many more years of health, provision, and joy ahead of her!

We hosted a church team from Illinois for an outreach this month, our second team from Rockford First! This all-women team was a great mix of individuals from all seasons of life, and they did a great job making friends with Sak Saum, local kids and youth, and the children in our programs. During their outreach, they taught English classes, did church/Sak Saum visitations to the sick and elderly, taught our staff new songs and games for ministry, shared in church and with our staff, did art projects with Father’s House and neighborhood children, helped with Yay Phait’s birthday, attending a Sak Saum anti-trafficking seminar, and more!

Below are some photos from their outreach. And if you or your church group is interested in learning more about doing outreaches with IHSI, please click here!



Looking Back

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At the start of a new year, it’s always good to revisit the previous year’s highlights and lessons learned. Through highs and lows, challenges and changes, the faithfulness of God is always evident! And for IHSI in 2013, we experienced many challenges and changes indeed. Several staff members went through the loss of loved ones, meanwhile many in Sak Saum brought beautiful new children into the world. Traffic accidents and health scares tried to steal joy and instill fear, but instead we are walking in peace and blessing. Political upheaval in the region has continued for many months, yet through it all God has protected each person in our care.

It’s hard to know where to begin when recapping an entire year, but below are a few of the many things that God has been doing in our church, Father’s House, and international ministry!

Gospel Community Church Saang

  • This has been a fruitful year for the church, with many new believers, a baptism, a baby dedication, a new Sunday School class, and lots of empowering opportunities for young people in the church to develop service and leadership skills. Building families and equipping young people for ministry are an important calling of the church!
  • Our staff organized not only a boys’ soccer team in the spring, but also a young women’s volleyball team at the end of the year. In addition to holding practices and playing games, both our teams have discipleship meetings and are involved in church ministries as part of their team-building activities. It’s a great way to grow each team member individually as well as build camaraderie in the community!
  • We are becoming a hub for helping smaller rural churches that do not have much support. Bibles, devotionals, books and audio Bibles from Messengers International have all been distributed to the Body of Christ in our area. During rainy season we collaborated with several churches to find families and widows in need of emergency relief, preparing and distributing 25 care packages with food and other supplies. We also provided training space for Operation Christmas Child to train  30 churches for their shoebox gift program!
  • Fulfilling one of last year’s church goals, we started a monthly group for married men to fellowship together, pray, and encourage each other.
  • GCCS staff and members of Sak Saum did repair work on several homes of elderly church members this year, as well as coordinating visitation to elderly and sick people in the area. We also donated food staples, clothing, hygiene supplies, and other items to those in need.
  • We held many events this year, including seminars, educational programs, a church barbecue, a free health clinic at three locations with a visiting medical team, educational, youth fellowship gatherings, our yearly Children’s Christmas Program for almost 400 children and a beautiful Christmas service for the congregation.

Father’s House

  • An exciting new partnership with Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ has allowed us to enroll Father’s House kids in a private school, a great step up from the school they had been attending and an answer to prayer! They are still adjusting to the newer, more challenging learning environment, but we are confident that this will be of great long-term benefit to each of them.
  • In addition to starting the kids in a new school, we were blessed to be able to trade in the Father’s House car for a van! This is great not only for transporting them back and forth to school, but for bringing the soccer and volleyball teams to games, transporting church members, and doing outreach.
  • In November we welcomed our newest child into Father’s House. Makara is a sweet boy who just this week made the decision to become a Christian. He loves coloring, art projects, singing and dancing, and playing soccer. Although he has some catching up to do academically and socially, we already see growth in leaps and bounds!
  • All Father’s House children are active in the church according to their abilities and personalities: helping with ushering, worship, children’s outreaches, Sunday School, visiting the sick, and being a part of church events. Several of them show great leadership potential, and many of them say their future life plans include wanting to be in ministry and help others like they have been helped! We are thankful for them and can see exciting things ahead for each one.
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International Ministry and Teams

  • In the fall the Hansons completed a whirlwind tour across the U.S., teaching at churches and colleges, meeting ministry partners, sharing the vision of IHSI, and doing fundraising work. This trip was very fruitful in terms of building relationship with new partners, and we believe that there will be more traveling of this nature in the future as God allows! To contact the Hansons for booking information, please email them at erich@ihsionline.org | ginnyh@ihsionline.org.

 

  • In 2013 we hosted many outreach teams, short-term volunteers, and visitors from all over the United States, as well as Russia and Australia. A few highlights of their visits included:
  • Children’s ministry at our Center and at other area churches
  • Dramas/songs/teachings at church services
  • A YWAM medical outreach with free clinics at three locations
  • Prayer ministry/teaching
  • Maintenance/service projects
  •  Visiting the elderly and the sick
  • Games and activities with local children
  • Constructing a playground at our Center
  • Human trafficking awareness seminars
  • Sak Saum English practice and relationship-building
  • Helping teach Center English classes
  • Attending women’s group and overnight stays with Sak Saum
  • Outings/educational activities with Fathers’ House and Loaves and Fish children

 

What has the Lord done in your life in the past year? What prayers has he answered and how did he demonstrate his faithfulness to you personally? Feel free to comment below, and tune in again soon for our next post, to hear about some of the exciting things in store for 2014!

-       In His Steps

Meet Chanteoun

Before surgery

Before surgery

After surgery

This week we’d like to introduce you to Chanteoun, a young woman who is the sister of Aly, one of our Khmer staff members. Chanteoun (pronounced “chan-too-en”) has been attending our church for some time and is employed by Sak Saum at one of our Freedom Facilities.

Though you probably wouldn’t know it looking at her now, until recently Chanteoun suffered from cleft palate, a birth defect that can lead to other numerous health issues. In Cambodia, it is believed that birth defects and handicaps are sign of a curse, or are the punishment for sin in a past life. For individuals like Chanteoun, this belief can be a factor placing them at high risk for abuse and trafficking.

After building relationship with Chanteoun through Sak Saum, we approached her with a question: would she be willing to undergo cleft palate corrective surgery? Her response was a shy but thankful “yes!” Soon our national director Theavy accompanied her to a preliminary doctor’s appointment.

Sewing at the Sak Saum Facility

On the day of her surgery, Chanteoun arrived at our office with a look of both nervousness and expectation. A night in the hospital and a short recovery period soon revealed the restoration of what had already been a beautiful smile. But over time, something else that was not there before has emerged: a lightness in Chanteoun’s step and a newfound confidence.

Please join us in praying for Chanteoun, that she would grow in her walk with God and in the confidence that comes not from self but from Him.

Simple Things

Transient

Every Saturday, our national director Theavy and some of our Sak Saum girls lead a womens’ group in Saang. It’s a time of teaching, fellowship, and mutual encouragement. Most of the women who attend are new Christians or visitors who are interested in learning more about God and how to take care of their families.

As Theavy was praying about what to teach several weeks ago, she felt God saying to just have fun with the group and not prepare a lesson. Unsure what exactly to do, Theavy bought some paper and crayons and went to the house of Chaim, an orphan caretaker who hosts the meetings.

The women’s group didn’t quite know what to make of Theavy’s announcement that they would be drawing pictures; several said they had never colored in their lives! One older lady hesitated at first, worried that she would make a mistake. Some drew pictures of their homes, or of scenes with mountains and rivers or flowers. None were exceptional by artistic standards, but to these women they were their special creations. They took turns showing each other’s artwork and explaining what they had drawn.

What a strange thing it must have been for women who have spent their whole lives in poverty and a survivalist mentality to take a moment and color a picture! One young mother with family problems shared that it was a relief to know that she could do something fun and be creative. She even said that she felt it was a healing moment for her.

Our God is one who cares about every person, inside and out. He knows the emotional needs that have not been met, the injustices and abuse that have been experienced, and (most importantly) he knows exactly what is needed to work healing in individual hearts. And sometimes that healing can start with something as simple as coloring. 

~ In His Steps